[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/meast/01/19/obama.black.iraqis/art.thijeel.cnn.jpg caption="Jalal Thiyab Thijeel quotes Barack Obama, saying it is time for change."]
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) - Their faces and darker skins make them look different. They are routinely called "slave" by the majority, whatever their profession. But Iraq's black population hopes that Barack Obama's rise to the White House will mark a turning point for minorities not just in the United States, but also in their country.
Jalal Thiyab Thijeel, general secretary of the "Movement of Free Iraqis," followed every detail of Obama's election campaign. "Inspiring," he calls it. Inspiring politically, and personally. Like Obama, Thijeel has family roots in Africa.
"We told our people, Inshalla, God willing, Obama is going to win, and if he wins, it will be a victory for all black people in the world," he recalls. "We're going to make him a model to follow. Even our old women were praying for him to win."